Lawyer advises offering free lunches, days off to those who take jab

Steve Watson
Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009

A report in the National Law Journal reveals that employers are asking lawyers if they can make it mandatory for their workers to take the H1N1 vaccination.

The article (registration required) also reveals that some companies are seeking legal advice on whether they can take employees’ temperatures, a practice that is illegal under laws covering medical tests in the workplace.

Lawyer Steve Biddle, who heads a San Francisco firm’s H1N1 practice group, tells the National Law Journal that he has taken a significant rise in calls regarding mandatory swine flu shots from employers in colder states.

Biddle says that mandatory shots are a viable option during a pandemic, but he recommends companies try a softer approach, such as offering more paid leave or free lunches for those workers who agree to take the shot.

Another lawyer, John Michels Jr, based in Chicago, backs up the notion that mandatory vaccination can be enforced in the workplace:

In the private arena, Michels said, “the law is pretty well established” regarding an employer’s right to mandate vaccinations. If an employer can establish a legitimate business need or objective, he said, vaccinations against various illnesses can be a legitimate job qualification.
Such a move would set a frightening precedent whereby employees would face the choice of getting vaccinated or losing their jobs. Further down the line, workers may be asked to agree to take vaccinations as part of their employment contracts.

Michels added that because there is a gray area over whether the H1N1 vaccine has been properly licensed, and given that it may be “experimental or not properly vetted”, workers could mount a strong challenge to such mandates issued by their employers.

A number of lawsuits against mandatory H1N1 vaccination have already been filed against the states of New York and Washington by nurses there, who have been told they must take the shot or be suspended and terminated from their jobs.

Healthcare workers across the country are standing up against intimidation to take the shot, pointing out that the vaccine has not been properly tested and contains mercury, squalene and other dangerous additives.